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Interview with Derek Nicol

Posted in Flying Music, News on 06 Dec, 2012

An exclusive interview with Derek Nicol, Joint Managing Director of Flying Music on the enduring success of the Solid Silver 60s show, now in its 28th year!

The 1960s, more than any other decade, seems to have a staying power that shows no sign of stopping, why do you think that is? What is so special about that decade?

DN: The 60’s was a revolutionary period….from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the Flintstones debut on TV in 1960, through various events throughout the decade such as The Berlin Wall being built and Soviets first man in Space in 1961, to Marilyn Monroe’s death and release of the Beatles first single “Love me Do” in 1962, to JFK’s assassination and Dr Who debut in 1963, to Cassius Clay World Champion and Rolling Stones first album release and Nelson Mandela’s prison sentence in 1964, to Winston Churchill’s death at 90, US troops in Vietnam and Thunderbirds debut in 1965, to England World Cup win and Star Trek debuts in 1966, to First heart transplant, Beatles Sgt Pepper and Radio One begins transmission in 1967, to Assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy in 1968, to Neil Armstrong on the Moon and Monty Python TV debut and Woodstock Festival in 1969. To name but a few!

A very eventful decade which musically came out of the Rock’n’Roll era of the 50’s encouraging youngsters to pick up guitars and other instruments to make some of the greatest and timeless music of all time. This was also the beginning of the term TEENAGER and revolutionary fashion styles, Twiggy, Mary Quant etc.

When you originally came up with the concept, did you think that you would be here, 28 years later still going strong?

DN: Certainly it wasn’t predicted but the music and songs remain timeless and perhaps that’s why the audiences still turn up today. As long as the audience want it and the artists are able to perform we will keep delivering. 

What has changed over the last 28 years in terms of the acts on stage, the houses you are playing in and the audience?

DN: When we first started back in 1985, most of the artists had seen the peak of their careers and this resulted to them playing in small smoky clubs and cabaret venues. With the creation of The SS60s Show we were able to take these artists back in to the larger concert venues and theatres that they had been used to playing in the 60’s. These venues were also a more comfortable for the audience who wanted to see them.

Realistically, how much longer do you think the show will go on? Will it reach its 30th anniversary? Or 35th? 

DN: Who knows, as I say above if the people still want it we will deliver.

What criteria do the artists have to fit in order to get on the bill?

DN: They have to have original members of the groups and be able to deliver a great show. Usually this is not a problem because they have all been performing professionally for so long it is second nature to them. They also have to love performing.

Have you got any plans to develop the show into a theatrical production or does the power of the show lie in its relative simplicity?

DN: This is something that is constantly under review and as the song material is so strong it is possible to build an exciting fresh show by younger artists which would in turn deliver a wider age range of audience. Most younger people have been influenced or should I say brainwashed with the music their parents had been listening to.

If you could pick from any 60s artist, who would be in your fantasy line up?

DN: This is not something I fantasise about.

When SS60s started, it was the only show of its kind. Now there are several ‘compilation’ shows. Do you take credit for that and do you see it as a compliment or competition?

DN: I think we should take credit for it and I see it both as a compliment and as competition.

Do you feel that you are providing a service for members of the audience who have reached a certain age as well as just entertainment plain and simple? 

DN: I think this is a service for a group of people who are possibly not catered for with entertainment that they would enjoy….and that is in all media. You just have to watch and listen to an audience at a SS60s show to appreciate their enjoyment and feel proud that we have delivered that enjoyment.

Which current artists do you think will have the longevity enjoyed by many artists from the 60s?

DN: Robbie Williams, Take That, and…..now I am struggling.

The music industry has changed dramatically since then and since you started your career. Is it for the better or for the worse?

DN: The music industry has always gone through changes and particularly driven by new technology (78’s, 45’s LPs, cassettes, CDs, downloads etc) and the means of conveying music to the listener or purchaser. Still a tough business….just different…..at the end of the day the public will tell you if you are getting it right because they buy the songs….and a song is a song is a song.

Are you finding that the artists and audience are embracing new technologies or shying away?

DN: The older audience is gradually catching up with the new technology, mobile, ipad, facebook, Twitter etc but it takes time as people generally are set in their ways. 

Who were your favourite bands when you were growing up?

DN: Dean Martin, Stones, Four Seasons, Del Shannon, Led Zeppelin, Faces.

Have you always been passionate about music – what got you interested in the business? 

DN: I have always enjoyed the music but not necessarily a fanatic. I am usually trying to second guess what the public will like and use entrepreneurial skills to bring that to them. I started by running my own club in my home town as well as managing local bands and then gradually got in to all aspects of the entertainment business when I moved to London in 1971.

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